[aprssig] Flying Digipeaster Works (Was: (Drone tracking of downed balloons)

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Tue Aug 25 16:43:28 EDT 2020

I've now had a chance to test the running time for the flying digipeater.  I 
did three test runs with the drone alone, and then three more with the PicoAPRS 
mounted on the drone's back.

With the Autel EVO drone alone, the flight time just hovering (not traveling 
sideways or recording 4K video) is about 20 minutes 30 seconds.  It then 
automatically descends and lands at it's take-off location.

Launched from a "drone landing pad" (a one-meter circular piece of fabric with 
a helipad-type "H" in the center in a contrasting color),  the drone's 
downward-facing camera uses character recognition to automatically navigate 
itself to the dead center of the pad for landing.

With the added weight of the PicoAPRS radio and antenna Velcroed to the top of 
the drone, the flight time is reduced to about 17 minutes 20 seconds, before 
the drone automatically lands.

I have two swappable battery packs, so I could snap in the 2nd pack and 
immediately take off again. Since the packs take about two hours to recharge, I 
would need 5 or 6 packs for continuous operations.

Presumably, for the balloon-recovery application (assuming the balloon is 
already on the ground and not moving), one would only need one flight -- long 
enough to digi just one or two beacons from the downed balloon to the chase 

I haven't yet sent the flying digi up high (300-400 feet) to see what kind of 
long-range digi performance I get. (The area around my house is surrounded by 
large trees.)  I hope to do a high digi test from my sister's farm (lots of 
open space) in a week or two.

On 7/16/2020 9:29 PM, wa2mct at gmail.com wrote:
> How long of a flight do you get at say 200-250'? Can you then swap batteries, or does it take longer than that to get back up in service again? Just curious
>   Mark WA2MCT
> -----Original Message-----

>      <http://WA8LMF.net/FlyingDigi>
> I've had the "Flying Digi" up at about 15 feet above ground level so far, testing for stability and EMI/RFI issues between the drone's radios & electronics and the PicoAPRS transceiver.  So far, no problems observed.

Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
Skype:        WA8LMF
EchoLink:  Node #  14400  [Think bottom of the 2-meter band]
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.net

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